Duo qualify for 70.3 Ironman World C'ship, Latest Athletics News - The New Paper

Duo qualify for 70.3 Ironman World C'ship

When triathlete Claire Jedrek fell and fractured her rib during the Singapore leg of the T100 Triathlon World Tour in April, she thought her chances of competing in the Ironman 70.3 Desaru Coast were ruined.

The 41-year-old was forced to sit out for two weeks, and she could only wish for the best. But her hopes of completing the race came true on May 19, five weeks after her injury. She went a step further by qualifying for the Dec 14-15 World Championships held in Taupo, New Zealand.

The former race driver, who transitioned to triathlon in 2015, said: “I fractured my ribs but there’s nothing much you can do except wait it out. That was really frustrating because it meant two weeks of doing nothing.

“I came back in the third week and started swimming, just to move. I didn’t really have much training in the lead-up to this.”

But after finishing a trail run in Malaysia she was invited to a week before the Desaru race, the sports presenter decided to take the plunge.

“My coach and friends said maybe I should just go to Desaru and take it easy,” she said, adding that she made a last-minute decision to book the ferry five days before the race.

Calling her race finish “emotional”, she said that she was surprised to finish fourth in her age group, thus qualifying for the year-end World Championship. After all, she had trained 10km less than usual approaching the race due to her injury setback. 

She revealed: “I was quite apprehensive, but now I’m looking forward to the experience of swimming in Taupo. It’s a highly sought-after competition, so I shouldn’t just waste it.”

Jedrek added that at least 10 Singaporeans have met the mark for the World Championships, including Choo Ling Er.

Another triathlete who overcame challenges to qualify for the World Championship was SEA Games medallist Bryce Chong.

It was the first time that the 27-year-old, who won bronze in the aquathlon (500m swim and 2.5km run) in Phnom Penh, was competing in an Ironman race, which comprises a 1.9km open-water swim, a 90km bike ride and 21.1km run.

The full-time sports therapist admitted that the race felt “lonely”, adding: “Most of the time I’m racing alone, while in short-distance races the gap between us is not that big. It’s something new to me, focus is always a priority but the distance is very long and it’s mentally draining.

“There’s no one to talk to and no music, just the road ahead and the scenery. I just broke the distance down to maybe 10km each time, making sure I hit the times I want, and the small little bits that get me more focused.”

He stepped out of his comfort zone as he felt the timing was right after the SEA Games and Asian Games in 2023. “There’s nothing much on my calendar this year so I just wanted to explore a different distance, something new,” he said.

But Chong is still unsure if he will participate in the World Championship, with the Bangkok SEA Games coming up in 2025.

He explained: “It’s still a bit of a question mark whether I go, because I don’t want to get burnt out with the SEA Games next year. My coach and I will see if going there benefits me, but if it’s better to rest then I’ll do that.”

Chong, who got into triathlon after being inspired by compatriot Scott Ang’s performance at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games, is targeting a triathlon medal at the upcoming editions of the SEA Games.